Inaugural tournament offers opportunity for young pickleballers

Elite Pickleball seeks to be at forefront of sport’s growth


Pickleball is regarded as the one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and that is do to its growing popularity among any age group.

Elite Pickleball is one of the first in the area to realize the potential it has among the youth in the area and is hosting its inaugural Battle at the Beaches Tournament at The Yards in Ponte Vedra Beach from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 30.

The tournament is for pickleball players ages 12-18 looking to have fun and compete on the court against others their age.

Elite Pickleball was started by Matt Masto and Kyle Firth, who were friends prior to the creation of the organization and have the goal of becoming the ultimate association and go-to outfit for junior pickleball enthusiasts.

“We got into pickleball a few years ago and as we got into it we started to hear about how high schools and colleges have started to have intramural club teams,” Masto said. “Everyone says that it’s just a matter of time before there are teams in high schools and scholarships offered to play in college.”

“We noticed no organizations helping to connect these young athletes with college and MLP (Major League Pickleball) recruiters and we wanted to help initiate that,” Masto said.

According to Masto, there have been MLP tournaments that have reached $5 million in purse money.

“It’s getting to the point where these kids could even make a living doing this,” Masto said.

Masto and Firth have been working out what it would take to start the initiative and the June 30 tournament is just the beginning of the venture, which Masto hopes for one day in the future to have tournaments in every state.

The inaugural event has not even taken place yet and they are already in talks with Pictona, which is a pickleball club and 49-court facility in Daytona Beach for a possible second event in late July.

DUPR is a rating algorithm used to rank pickleball players and their various skill levels, and the Battle at the Beaches tournament will be rating all players who play in the event so that they can have a better feel for their ability and to give them an idea of where they stand.

“They (DUPR) love what we’re doing here,” Masto said. “It seems like we’re a little early on still in this process, but that’s not going to be the case for much longer. It’s only a matter of time before it really catches on.”

Tournaments will not be the only way in which Elite Pickleball will seek to help connect young athletes with scouts, but they also have plans to host coaching seminars where players can further learn how to improve their technique to master the game.

Masto has seen firsthand the impact and benefits pickleball can have on athletes who play other sports as well.

“My boys play baseball and some trainers we work, which also work with major league players, and they tell them to play pickleball during the offseason because it really helps with hand-eye coordination,” Masto said.

The tournament will be divided into two divisions with 12- to 14-year-olds competing against each other in one division and 15- to 18-year-olds facing off in the other.

For more information about the tournament and the organization’s mission go to

Elite Pickleball, tournament, The Yards